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The UK Independence Party was founded in 1993 to seek Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. We have attracted membership from Labour, Conservative and Liberal-Democrat backgrounds - principled men and women who want their country back. The UKIP has grown steadily as more people see through the European 'project'. We are now the fourth political party - in 1999, we won three seats in the European Parliament, a platform we use to reveal the truth about the EU.
The UKIP is a non-racist, non-sectarian party. It includes British people of all backgrounds who value individual freedom, tolerance and our right to govern ourselves. The UKIP really believes in Britain and Britain's future as an independent nation competing in the world. We are not 'anti-European', but we oppose British membership of an EU that stifles our initiative and threatens our freedom. We do not seek to abolish the EU, for we believe that each nation in Europe should decide its own future. Britain has no more right to control them than they have to impose their will on us.
The UKIP is the only political party contesting the General Election that will never abolish the pound for the euro and will never abandon British common law, the right to trial by jury or the presumption of innocence. Indeed we are the only party left that genuinely believes in freedom - freedom for the individual, freedom for businesses and local communities, freedom from patronising 'political-correctness' and from intolerance or injustice. We seek an independent, outward-looking Britain, not the offshore province of a centralised 'Europe', whose people are told what to do and what to think.
In 1975, the British people voted for the 'Common Market' in good faith. They were told it was going to be a genuine common market - an association of independent, freely trading nation states. Instead, we have the European Union: centralised, bureaucratic, unaccountable and corrupt, eroding our independence and dictating policies that we would never vote for in an election.
Not only is our currency under threat, but our entire legal system, our British nationality, our right to free speech and freedom of association, our police, our armed forces, our own agricultural policy, our right to trade freely and the parliamentary system that underpins British liberty.
The EU has shown itself to be one of the largest confidence tricks in human history. It claims to 'give us rights' while removing basic freedoms. It 'gives us money' while costing us billions of pounds per year. EU subsidies are like crumbs from the cake we have made. The UKIP rejects the absurd Alice-in-Euroland logic of rule from Brussels.
The other parties are not telling us the truth about the EU. Despite all experience, the Labour Party still boasts about taking the lead in the EU and helping to shape its future. The Liberal-Democrats claim to believe in individual freedom but would reduce us to powerlessness within the EU. The Greens claim to believe in 'acting locally' but want us to be ruled by the Strasbourg Parliament. The Tories pretend that we can be 'in Europe but not run by Europe'. We say that 'in the EU means ruined by the EU'.
The European Commission in Brussels intends that there shall be an EU 'government', an EU 'army' and an EU 'constitution'. This proves to us that it is time to withdraw, rather than go on pretending that we can compromise.
The UKIP will repeal the European Communities Act (1972) that binds Britain into the European Union, and enter into trade agreements with our former 'partners'. Whatever their claims, the leading members of the Tory, Labour and Liberal-Democrat parties all remain committed to continued EU membership. These professional politicians don't want us to run our own country or control our own lives. The UKIP, by contrast, is a moderate, mainstream party which believes in the British people and can offer them a life outside the Euro-state.
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When Britain leaves the European Union, we shall be able to take full advantage of trading opportunities throughout the world, and not just in Europe. With its external tariff barriers, the EU prevents us from trading freely and fairly on the world stage, particularly in agricultural products. The UK Independence Party supports genuine free trade.
Britain is the world's fourth largest economy and the second largest global investor (after the United States). It can hardly be said that we are 'too small to survive alone'. Britain is also head of the Commonwealth - the largest international club except for the UN itself. This international grouping includes a quarter of the world's population. It is a free association of independent nations which share our language, culture and approach to business. This is a far better model for international relations than the centralised, increasingly tyrannical EU.
Through the Commonwealth, Britain has links with some of the world's fastest growing economies, such as those of the Indian subcontinent. Our relationship with the United States remains unique. These connections equip us to take advantage of global opportunities. EU membership, by contrast, holds us back in the world - it locks us into an over-regulated system based on the principle of 'the state knows best'.
When Britain leaves the EU, we need not fear that our trade with the European Union would cease. On the contrary, since we continually buy more from our European neighbours than we sell to them, it would not be in their interests to reduce their trading links with us. Moreover those who claim that our Japanese and other inward investors would leave should bear in mind that access via Britain to European markets is not the only reason why they are here. Other strong reasons are our language, our business methods, and our flexible labour force. Indeed, the opportunities resulting from a more prosperous EU-free world-trading Britain, will be a magnet to new investment both from outside and within the UK.
Since our entry to the 'Community' in 1973, the UK, a global economy, has been unable to negotiate any trade deals with the rest of the world. Freedom from the EU means that Britain can act as a force for good in the world. As a powerful and independent economy, we would be entitled to our seat at the World Trade Organisation and in a position to help shape its policies so that there is more genuine free trade, and less protectionism on behalf of big companies or rich countries.
Outside the EU, we can build strong trading relationships with the rest of the world, including Commonwealth countries and the North American Free Trade Area. It is ironic that the European Commission could negotiate with - or even join - NAFTA. Britain cannot make such decisions because Tory and Labour governments have signed our sovereignty away.
The UKIP is the only party to support free and fair trade for a free country.
In addition to the gains derived from free global trade, another substantial benefit that becomes possible on leaving the EU is the removal of a whole range of damaging and unnecessary regulations.
The guiding principle of the EU, as set out in the treaties, is centralised control. The treaties give the European Commission the task of creating regulations and directives in the areas of health and safety, the environment, employment, and the single market. And while the European Parliament provides a façade of democracy, our own national parliament merely rubber-stamps all the rules before they are passed in UK law, often with extra 'gold-plating' by our own officials. This process has given rise to some 25,000 separate UK regulations since 1973, and few business and activities escape.
There is no point in pretending that we can pick and choose between EU regulations, or that we can 'negotiate' and 'opt out'. Even where we have successfully resisted EU laws, the EU Commission brings them back in another form.
One example of a senseless EU rule is compulsory metrication. The UKIP is not against traders using metric units, but we believe in choice. It cannot be right to make criminals out of people who choose to weigh vegetables in pounds and ounces. As another example, the spread of foot and mouth disease has been made much worse by the large distances that animals now have to travel. This is a direct consequence of the closure of hundreds of small abattoirs because they could not afford the new and evidently ineffective veterinary inspection rules.
The destructive effect that this flood of regulations has on employment is obvious. Regulation inevitably adds costs to business, and most of all it damages the smaller businesses that provide for two-thirds of British jobs. Regulation hurts family firms, the self-employed, co-operatives and ethnic minority businesses. Employment regulations in particular interfere with job creation, especially part-time jobs which offer opportunities to women, the under-25s and older workers. The bureaucratic burden associated with regulation has also become intolerable. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, businesses with 10-14 employees are now spending thirty-one hours per month on paperwork.
In contrast to the small business sector, large corporations are far better able to cope with regulation. Indeed they have the power to lobby the Brussels Commission to frame laws that are favourable to them. This is why many multi-nationals support the euro and want an EU superstate. It suits their interests to divide the world into regional power blocs. National governments and different legal systems are inconveniences they could do without.
The UKIP is not 'against' multi-nationals. On the contrary, we welcome their contribution to the economy. But we seek a trading environment in which small and medium sized businesses are allowed to compete fairly. We are for independence, diversity and choice, not regulation, bureaucracy and conformity.
On withdrawal from the EU, the UK Independence Party will make a 'bonfire' of inappropriate regulations. And recognising the contribution that smaller employers make to the UK economy, we would pay particular attention to scrapping unnecessary rules from businesses employing fewer than 20 people. Freed from excessive rules and red tape, business enterprise will thrive and the UKIP believes this will lead to a marked improvement in employment.
The UKIP accepts that some regulation is necessary in any civilised society, for instance to balance the rights (and responsibilities) of workers and employers. But laws must be respected, easily understood and sympathetically applied, otherwise they invite corruption and dishonesty.
In particular, the UKIP insists that British law must be designed by our own elected representatives at national or local levels, using our own established democratic procedures. We must never again allow the power to make our laws to be placed in the hands of an autocratic machine over which we have no control.
The other major economic benefit from leaving the EU is the substantial 'Independence Dividend' consisting of cash that will be saved when we no longer have to contribute to the EU budget, and savings that will accrue from other sources as a directly result of our independence 2. While the main parties spend their time trying to ridicule each other's tax and spending plans, the UK Independence Party will be in the uniquely favourable position of having an extra fund of some £20 billion per year to use as we see fit.
On leaving the EU, Britain's gross contribution to the EU budget of £8.5 billion per year (with the threatened removal of the Fontainebleau rebate and other structural adjustments this will rise to £11 billion per year) will become immediately available to the Treasury. While the agricultural subsidies and structural fund grants (£4.5 billion) that the UK currently receives from the EU will also cease, the UKIP proposes a partial replacement of these expenditures from the UK's own budget, as detailed below.
In addition to saving our annual £8.5 billion EU payment, there are several other sources of funds to the Independence Dividend that the Treasury will receive on British withdrawal from the EU. The main components of this improvement to the UK budget are as follows. First, higher economic growth resulting from wholesale regulatory reform will bring extra tax revenues (given existing tax rates) and lower demands for benefit payments, which we conservatively estimate to be worth £4.5 billion and £1.5 billion respectively. Secondly, the reduction in the cost of bureaucracy as a result of deregulation across the whole range of government departments and government-funded agencies could raise a further £4 billion. Finally, as a separate substantial item, we estimate that the gain in revenues less subsidies from re-establishing our own fishing industry will be £1.5 billion.
These sources together add a further £11.5 billion to the £8.5 billion saving in our gross contribution to the EU. On these estimates, the total Independence Dividend of extra funds available to the Treasury as a consequence of leaving the EU is of the order of £20 billion per year (£22.5 Billion when rebates cease).
Elsewhere in this manifesto, several additional demands on the national budget are proposed, funded from the Independence Dividend. The main items of expenditure and the approximate amounts are as indicated below.
An amount of £2 billion per year is budgeted for subsidies to agriculture. These will replace funding that is currently received under the Common Agricultural policy (CAP), and provide for the separate initiatives such as the Land Management Contract Scheme and other targeted assistance to agriculture and the countryside. To replace the grants that are currently received under the EU's structural funds, an amount of £1 billion per year is allocated for continuing support to regions of high unemployment.
In the UKIP's welfare provisions, the proposed increase of £5 per week in state pensions will cost £2.8 billion per year, and an amount of £0.5 billion is suggested for increased spending on care for the elderly and £0.3 billion to restore pension levels to ex-pat UK pensioners whose pensions have been frozen since leaving the UK.
The UKIP's main change to taxation is to reduce tax for the lower paid and to remove a further 1 million individuals out of tax altogether, at a cost of £1.4 billion per year. Other items of tax reform, in particular the reintroduction of the married person's tax allowance for families with children under 18, and reform of capital taxes, would absorb a further £1.3 billion.
We propose an increase in the annual NHS budget of £2 billion, and an additional sum of £0.5 billion to raise the income of nursing staff. Increasing the numbers of teachers by 30,000 in order to reduce class sizes and 25,000 more police will cost £1.2 billion and £0.8 billion per year respectively.
The UKIP proposes to reduce the taxation on petrol and diesel fuel by 40p per gallon (9p per litre) which would cost approximately £3.7 billion. Finally an increase of £2.5 billion per year is earmarked for additional spending on defence personnel and defence equipment.
Taken together, these additional expenditures amount to £20 billion per year, equal to the amount available from the Independence Dividend.
Excessive taxation - of individuals and businesses - stifles initiative, reduces employment and encourages dishonesty. It also makes Britain less competitive in the global marketplace. Tax policy should be framed to encourage investment, to enhance our global competitiveness, and to create rather than remove incentives to work and save.
The UKIP believes that these criteria call for a wholesale reappraisal of British tax arrangements over the longer term. However, one area in which immediate relief can be granted is tax for the lower paid, making employment more attractive. The UKIP will raise the starting threshold for income tax with the object of removing a further 1 million lower paid individuals altogether from tax, with suitable adjustments so as to leave higher rate taxpayers unaffected. The UKIP will also immediately consider the reform of capital gains tax and inheritance tax, and will remove the main family residence from inheritance tax and introduce further IHT exemptions.
In addition to tax reduction, the UKIP believes there is much to be gained by simplification of our system of taxation, an issue that successive UK governments have only made worse, an example being the new system of tax credits. The complexity of our taxes is completely out of hand, and it causes assessment to be an excessive burden both to the revenue authorities and to taxpayers and their professional advisers, besides leading to errors. In consultation with business and with the Accountancy and Taxation Institutes, the UKIP would aim for a taxation system that is fair and reasonable with simple, concise and clear objectives. In particular we should aim for taxes that are easy to calculate and collect without resort to the courts. The Tax Faculty of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales describes the problem in frank terms3 – "Britain's tax system has spun out of democratic control and become detached from the principles of good revenue raising."
The UKIP would pay immediate attention to simplifying or scrapping the self-assessment system, and to the procedures involved in calculating value added tax (VAT). We also note that VAT is an EU tax - our membership of the EU obliges us to use the VAT system. Outside the EU, the UKIP would be in a position to consider the merits of replacing VAT by a tax applied to retail sales.
Above all, freedom from the EU would forever remove the threat of 'tax harmonisation'. The European Commission remains insistent on this measure as part of its obsession with promoting its own notion of 'competitiveness'. For the UK, tax harmonisation would imply that our tax rates rise to the generally higher levels prevailing in other EU countries. There has, for instance, been no relaxation in the EU's continued pressure for the UK to apply VAT to basic food, childrens' clothing, books, transport and other items that are currently 'zero-rated'.
Average unemployment in the rest of the EU remains around twice as high as in the UK, despite the recent economic growth in euro-zone countries. The UKIP associates this difference with the UK's lower taxes, lighter regulation and general approach to business, all of which are being eroded by our continuing participation in the European Union.
The setting of tax rates is one of the most fundamental duties of our elected government. The UKIP is the only party that can promise that this responsibility is not progressively handed to Brussels.
On leaving the EU, Britain will no longer have to live under the uncertainty of whether or not we shall join the euro, and our public institutions can stop spending our money on preparing for the euro. Britain will keep the pound - forever - not just for the next parliament or until some UK government declares that the 'time is right' to join.
At best, the euro would provide Britain with no more than trivial economic gains, while the downside risks are very serious. The one-size-fits-all interest rate that Britain would adopt as part of the euro-zone would make boom-and-bust cycles worse, as the Irish economy is now demonstrating. And as our EU neighbours keep telling us, the main motivation for the euro is not economic gain anyway; its purpose is to further the cause of 'ever closer union' with the main levers of economic policy handed to EU institutions. As with taxation policy, it is hard to accept that any British government could even contemplate surrendering this essential responsibility.
With the £-sterling firmly retained as Britain's currency, the UKIP would continue the present arrangement in which the Bank of England has 'independence' in its choice of interest rates. Since 1997, the Bank has demonstrated its ability to control £-sterling inflation, and has established a better record in this respect than the euro-zone's European Central Bank. While the Bank must remain accountable to the government, the UKIP believes that low and steady inflation provides the best monetary environment for business and employment to thrive.
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Britain, which has the world's fourth largest economy, deserves a first class National Health Service. In many respects our NHS works well in providing excellent care at a lower cost compared with systems in other countries, thanks to the doctors, nurses and other health professionals who work immensely hard to maintain standards. But problems arise because of management methods that are too centralised, cumbersome and bureaucratic. Moreover the system requires additional - but properly managed - financial support, to bring a genuine reduction in waiting lists, and to provide for an ageing population and the development of new drugs and treatments.
The UKIP believes that hospitals should reintroduce proven, traditional management structures. Under present arrangements, responsibility has become fragmented, with different individuals responsible for the various aspects of care. Conflicts arise because of the differing objectives of administrators and those responsible for treatment. The UKIP favours a return to the 'matron' system where a single manager is responsible for all 'hotel services' and 'caring' functions. This change will go a long way towards addressing the current problems of hospital infection and clinical malpractice.
Nursing must be seen as a rewarding career with good pay and prospects. Salaries must be increased to attract high calibre nurses - and, crucially, to retain them in the Health Service, in particular by extending salary scales to reward proficiency and experience. With regard to training, we believe that the pursuit of increasingly academic qualifications for hospital workers should be reconsidered, with more emphasis placed on practical competence. Freedom from the EU will allow more scope to make up the current shortfall in NHS staff levels by recruiting suitable applicants from other countries.
Links between NHS Trusts and their local communities are crucial to first class health care. Governing bodies should be more accountable to the communities they serve. Effective reform depends on peeling away the layers of bureaucracy that obstruct the NHS and impede the delivery of patient care. Patients should be treated as individuals, not mere statistics, and should be given as much consideration and choice as possible. We believe that money should be spent on treating patients, not on management consultants, and politically-correct excesses. It is a disgrace that part of the NHS budget is being spent on 'preparation' for the euro. The UKIP has no ideological bias against the private sector, which we regard as an essential part of the nation's health provision.
The UKIP shares the widespread public alarm about the impersonal and bureaucratic nature of social service provision. This can lead to a patronising, dictatorial approach to communities, and at worst to acts of tragic incompetence and injustice. Britain has many first-class social workers, but the system they work in takes responsibility away from local communities and takes little account of individual needs. The UKIP is determined to review social service provision so that it is more accountable and less doctrinaire. Training and working practices for social workers will be reviewed so that there is less emphasis on 'political correctness', and more emphasis on solving practical problems for individuals and communities.
In other words, the UKIP supports a return to the original principles of the NHS: a health care system that serves local communities and responds to people's needs. We want a health service with decentralised management and a minimum of red-tape, and a health service that enables doctors, nurses and other health workers to re-establish the respect they deserve. The UKIP promotes the ethos of public service, and deplores its erosion by successive Tory and Labour governments.
Welfare provision is an area in pressing need of reform, not just because it absorbs over £100 billion per year or 35% of the national budget, but also because benefit payments provide disincentives to work, self-provision, and help within the family and community. But the reform of welfare policy is politically difficult because a large proportion of the population receives payments, and because an increasing amount of our social law is being forced to follow EU norms.
Not surprisingly, the efforts of successive governments to tackle these problems have been disappointing. Too often, changes have been to minor details such as the conditions applied in means testing, rather than any fundamental aspects of the system. And this continuous revision of the rules has had the adverse effect of adding even more complexity to an already complex system. This has had a number of unfortunate consequences. First, there has been an increase in the numbers of people who do not claim their entitlements because they are unable to complete the necessary forms, or are unwilling to answer all the demeaning questions. Secondly, each new complication adds to the administrative cost which is already over £3 billion. Finally, the more complex the system, the easier it is for benefit cheats to find ways of avoiding detection, and the more tiresome it is for officials to attempt to check up on them.
A further unfortunate result of expanding state provision and other government policies has been to undermine the family as the basic stable unit of society. The family, preferably with two committed parents, is the best environment for raising secure and confident children. In this connection, the UKIP will restore tax advantages to married couples with children under the age of eighteen. We shall also review current legal practices that seem to favour divorce and allow parents to escape financial and moral responsibility for their children.
While the benefit system clearly merits wholesale reform, the UKIP's first priority will be simplification. Our objective will be to make the rules as transparent as possible in order to cut down on administration, to make claiming easier for those who are genuinely entitled to payments, and to reduce the opportunities for fraud. The general objective of other reforms will be to free as many as possible from benefit culture by ensuring that the net income gained from working, either part-time or full-time, is always greater than the benefits foregone. Benefits should also be more easily transferable from one authority to another in order to facilitate labour mobility.
One particular option that we intend to consider is the replacement of benefit payments in certain cases by a basic income which would not be withdrawn if the individual takes on part-time employment. We envisage that unemployed workers with more then twenty years work experience, and single mothers with school age children may be among those who would qualify for such assistance. In particular this should be considered for 'post-industrial' areas, where mature skilled workers cannot find employment. Advantages of a basic income are that it is straightforward to administer and not so open to fraud.
The main aim of the UKIP's benefit policy will be to reduce the numbers of those who need it, and to restore people to independence from benefits and to the dignity that comes with it.
The UK Independence Party believes that pensioners deserve a share of the Independence Dividend of cash that will flow from Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and we propose to raise the universal state pension by £5 per week. In addition, we recognise the hardship that some elderly people are enduring as a result of a shortage of funds for residential care, and we respect those who wish to remain living in their homes but cannot afford the necessary care. We have therefore allocated a sum of £0.5 billion to assist in these two areas. We will additionally restore the full UK pension to expatriate pensioners whose pensions have been frozen since their departure from the UK at a cost of £0.3 billion.
There is however another issue that the UKIP wishes to address. As the UK population ages, the cost to the exchequer of state pensions is rising, and it is expected to rise considerably after 2010. The UKIP is prepared to face the fact that the current pay-as-you-go system for state pension provision will become difficult to sustain in the long run.
The UKIP will therefore investigate a system in which individuals are required to divert part of their National Insurance contributions into their own private pension funds, and these would replace the state pension on their retirement. As time passes the demand for state pensions would thus gradually diminish, and eventually the state would provide only for those who were unable to provide sufficiently for themselves. The great advantage of private pensions is that they restore the connection between contributions and the eventual payout, and the rate of return to contributions reflects the returns available in financial markets: it cannot be reduced by the government's appropriation of some of the funds. The government's windfall receipts from the sale of airwave licences would be a useful source of funds to make up the initial shortfall in National Insurance revenue. Existing pensioners would be unaffected by this scheme.
Many people in Britain are already members of private occupational pension schemes, or have taken out personal pension policies. This has partly been a response to tax incentives which the present government has largely withdrawn, but the UKIP would restore. This has placed Britain in a far better position than several other EU countries. There is little private pension provision in Germany and Italy, for instance, and so the pension 'overhang' in these countries is much greater than in the UK. It is widely acknowledged that these unfunded pension liabilities will become a serious burden, and this is a concern for Britain as a member of the EU because of the likelihood that we shall be obliged to assist through the EU budget.
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An independent Britain requires a qualified, well-trained population with the skills and knowledge needed to compete in the world. But education has wider purposes, too: the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, the transmission of cultural values, and the creation of good citizens with the inquiring minds required for a free society. The UK Independence Party seeks to remove obstacles to learning, to give real opportunities to every pupil and promote excellence rather than mediocrity. That means a return to more traditional methods of teaching the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. It also means shifting the balance of power from educational bureaucrats towards school governors, head teachers, teachers themselves and parents.
In promoting freedom of choice, the UK Independence Party will allow state schools to select for academic ability or potential and to stream pupils, as long as they take into account social needs and give opportunities to children from less advantaged backgrounds. We believe in top quality education for all, regardless of background, race or income, and would work towards reducing class sizes, especially at junior level, where the foundations of learning should be laid. Our target is less than twenty-five pupils per class. Part of the Independence Dividend of funds released as a result of Britain's departure from the EU will be converted into an Education Dividend to pay for more teachers.
We also recognise that some children do better at single-sex schools, some parents prefer religious schools and that 'non-academic' children deserve as rewarding an education as their peers. And we envisage more specialist schools, which focus on (for example) music, sport, or technology. The UKIP will raise the status of technical education to that of academic schooling, and allow early specialisation in practical subjects. There are many people from industry, the Armed Forces and the professions with knowledge, skill and insight, who could make valuable contributions to this programme.
We do not rule out radical schemes, such as vouchers for parents to send their children to private schools, or schools outside their localities, where these meet their needs better. More generally, The UKIP seeks to break down the 'wall' between private and state schools, for we value the role of both in educating our children.
The UKIP aims for an education policy that reflects the concerns of parents, many teachers and pupils themselves, not self-proclaimed educational 'experts'. We shall therefore address such problems as boys' under-achievement (and the social problems this causes), the shortage of male teachers to act as role models, lax discipline, and the continuing under-achievement of many ethnic minority children. We note that some parents send their children to Commonwealth countries to receive a traditional 'British' education. This is a terrible indictment of our system. All British children should have the opportunity of a decent education. The UKIP will ensure that the days of levelling-down are over.
A further concern is politically slanted teaching, especially in History, English and 'Personal and Social Education'. A major cause of this problem is dogma-driven teacher training that also promotes flawed 'child-centred' and 'progressive' teaching methods. Teacher training will be restructured, with less emphasis on abstract educational theory, and more on tried and tested teaching methods. Another cause of bias is the insidious EU programme to brainwash our children, so that they grow up believing uncritically in the 'European ideal'. Brussels makes no secret of its desire to control education, and EU propaganda in schools has greatly increased. Unlike the other parties, we can promise that this will never happen in British schools.
The UKIP believes in genuine citizenship education including an understanding of British history. This includes learning to think, criticise and argue as well as obey the law. Citizenship is not about promoting fashionable 'isms' or lifestyles, but about independence of mind, responsible behaviour and 'life skills' such as managing money, understanding road safety and practical care for the environment. Many schools already do an excellent job in this respect.
Finally, the UKIP will stop the sale of playing fields. We regard sporting activity as an essential part of good schooling. The long-term educational and social benefit of sport in schools should not be sacrificed for short-term profit. We deplore the decline of competitive sports and other outdoor activities in schools, and will take appropriate measures to reverse this trend.
With more choice and responsibility returned to governors, teachers and parents, the UKIP is confident that motivation and classroom discipline will improve, educational standards will rise, and teachers will regain the respect that their profession deserves.
The above principles apply, by and large, to higher education. Investment in higher education is essential to the health of the economy, not only in the creation of a well-trained workforce equipped with modern skills, but also in promoting study for its own sake, based on objective inquiry and freedom of thought.
But as with schools, there has been an increase in centralised bureaucratic interference in the running of our colleges and universities. As in so many spheres, the government has become more involved in inspection, by means of centralised teaching quality assessments and the introduction of crass new management structures. The UKIP believes that these measures are counterproductive. Decisions about teaching methods, course structures and quality should as far as possible be left to the institutions concerned. The best way to ensure standards is to leave institutions free to compete in offering courses that students and employers find valuable.
The UKIP also believes that advanced education in all its forms should be widely available. In this regard we recognise that many mature men and women want to learn new skills in order to increase their employment options. We therefore support a further education system that responds to a range of needs and offers a wide variety of courses and opportunities. We shall promote community colleges and, as with schools, we shall raise the status of technical education to that of academic study.
With regard to financing, we support those universities that seek additional financing from sources other than government, and shall explore various mechanisms for independent funding, such as transferable loans which students repay directly to the academic institutions of their choice. The UKIP will also encourage the setting up of private universities and colleges, with generous provision for scholarships for bright students from less advantaged backgrounds.
The UKIP is alarmed that several hundred university positions in Britain are funded or supported by the EU, with the provision that the individuals engage themselves in teaching or research into European integration. This will cease when Britain leaves the EU. Another advantage of leaving the EU will be that it ends the discriminatory practice in which a student from the EU pays much lower fees than one from the Commonwealth and other non-EU countries. Students from all overseas countries play a valuable role in fostering friendship and promoting international co-operation.
Higher education in all its forms must remain available to all, regardless of background and income. And the UKIP believes that the way to maintain standards and do justice to students is to leave the various universities and colleges free to offer courses that offer the best value, measured in terms of future job prospects and the advancement of knowledge.
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Propagandists for the EU present it as 'environmentally friendly'. They would have us believe that without help from Brussels we cannot address environmental problems or provide good public transport. In reality, the EU is part of the problem. It aims to impose a system of central planning where 'one size fits all' - but in reality no one is satisfied. Some of the most controversial aspects of rail privatisation, such as the creation of Railtrack as a private monopoly, were introduced to comply with EU rules - yet in many EU countries the railways are still owned by the state. EU membership drains away money that could be used to create better roads and railways. Independence will enable us to address the UK's unique transport problems instead of following irrelevant directives.
In rural areas especially, we must assume that the car will continue to be the main form of private transport, for reasons of efficiency and convenience. We are not in favour of laws and taxes which penalise the motorist - they are both ineffective and highly illiberal. There is no point in telling motorists to 'get out of their cars' when public transport is unavailable or unsafe. The UKIP supports an integrated transport system with easy transitions between car, bus or train, and in which cycling and walking are also encouraged. In improving our public transport, we can learn lessons from other countries, including the Netherlands, and Switzerland - which despite its mountainous terrain has the best transport infrastructure in Europe.
In general, the UKIP favours free market solutions in transport. However unlike the Conservative Party we do not see privatisation as an article of faith, and we oppose the partial sell-off of the London Underground. We address transport policy on a case-by-case basis, taking local conditions into account. For example, the UKIP will work with the Countryside Alliance and other rural forums to tackle the problems of rural transport - in particular for children, the elderly and people on low incomes.
The UKIP is persuaded by calls from the Federation of Small Business to reduce fuel tax, and a part of the Independence Dividend of funds released to the Treasury when Britain leaves the EU is earmarked for this purpose. High fuel taxes do not protect the environment but do threaten Britain's global competitiveness. They destroy jobs, ruin businesses and add to the difficulties of British farming. The haulage industry, rural economies and the poor are worst affected by these high taxes. Independence will mean that we could reduce our own fuel tax rates at will without having to justify this to the EU - as the Norwegian Parliament did in September 2000. The UKIP rejects the 'Climate Change Levy' as another stealth tax on business.
The UKIP supports adequate funding for bypasses, upgrading major routes, road and railway maintenance and the provision of cycle lanes. The private car Road Fund Licence (RFL) will be structured to encourage the use of the least polluting vehicles, although some historic vehicles may be exempt.
Environmental policy is about empowerment - of local communities, businesses and individual citizens. The EU stands for the opposite: centralisation, crippling regulation, edicts by unaccountable officialdom. Recent history has shown us that centralisation has failed. The planned economies of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were amongst the most polluted societies on Earth. The original ecology movement believed strongly in local control. Today's 'greens' support regulation on a grand scale. Often they seem to dislike people more than they love the planet. We would like to return to the environmental movement's founding principles: respect for diversity, accessible and transparent political institutions, local accountability and human responsibility for natural resources.
The UK Independence Party supports a balance between the needs of economic growth and environmental concern. Small and medium-sized businesses have a crucial role to play in environmental policy; because they serve local communities, it is in their interests to promote a healthy environment. The EU policy of imposing cumbersome directives and issuing contestant threats has proved to be counter-productive. Like excessive taxation, this encourages illegal behaviour rather than public service. The UKIP believes that free-market solutions to environmental problems work better than state control. Yet the market must operate against a background of pragmatic and fair regulation.
As the party of decentralisation, the UKIP believes that the enforcement structure for environmental regulations should be greatly simplified. Wherever possible, enforcement will be returned to local authorities, acting under the general direction and support of central agencies which answer to Parliament. The UKIP sees a link between sound environmental management and a return to democratic accountability at all levels.
Accordingly, UKIP policy is to encourage the development of well-equipped environmental monitoring teams answerable to local authorities. A primary function of these teams will be to detect and where possible prevent adverse health effects attributable to environmental pollution. In this context, The UKIP is concerned by the alarming rise in conditions such as asthma, the emergence of significant levels of childhood leukaemia and the number of unexplained clusters of previously rare cancers. We shall promote studies to determine the causes. There will be full local involvement in such studies to prevent cover-ups by central government.
The UKIP takes a free market approach to new housing and industrial growth. Nonetheless, we are concerned about the concentration of development in the South East of England. This problem will be partially relieved by a modern, efficient communications network and transport system that will make other areas more attractive to investors. Those regions such as the South-West and North-East that currently receive EU structural funds will have this support continued from the national budget, to the extent deemed appropriate by our elected government, when Britain leaves the EU.
The UKIP takes note of public opposition to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and the failure of government to respond adequately to those concerns. This is because the British government has become subservient to the Biotech corporations and EU bureaucrats who support them. The UKIP will protect absolutely the consumer and organic farmer from genetically modified products and will enforce the clearest possible labelling giving consumers the choice of food constituents and their source. It is wrong that important issues like these are decided by the unelected European Commission. As another example, The Commission is planning a massive increase in the testing of chemicals on animals, a situation which has been condemned as unnecessary by scientists and the chemicals industry. However, the British Parliament will have no say in this decision. Only outside the EU will a free Britain be able to decide its own policy on these important issues.
Finally, turning to carbon dioxide emissions, whilst their effects on global warming remain unclear, the continuing use of fossil fuels undoubtedly impairs the long-term quality of life on our planet. We will therefore encourage and support private initiatives in developing energy production from renewable sources - biofuels, wave, wind, solar and hydrogen technologies, with the objective being that these sources should eventually provide for a substantial percentage of our energy consumption.
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The British judicial system is under attack. The government has signalled its intention to restrict trial by jury. Our magistrate's courts are having severe difficulties coping with a rising workload and a large volume of new regulation. But these are minor issues compared with the threat to our legal system from the European Union and its determination to introduce a unified system for the whole EU.
The EU's proposed 'Corpus Juris' legal system is based on to the Napoleonic legal code that prevails in much of continental Europe, and it is very different from British tradition. Its main provisions are the establishment of a European public prosecutor, no presumption of innocence until proved guilty, and no right of habeus corpus: this means that prisoners can be held for long periods without charges being brought. In Britain it would complete the ending of trial by jury.
To complement this change, the Orwellian-sounding Europol police force has already been set up. Based in The Hague, this shadowy organisation began life with the ostensible objective of combating drugs and organised crime. Its remit has now been extended to cover political subversion - as defined by the European Commission. From next year, these Euro-police will be allowed to operate in member states at the request of the European public prosecutor, and national governments will be unable to help their own citizens. Unlike national police forces, the Europol will have diplomatic immunity - they cannot be sued by members of the public for false arrest, brutality or damage to property.
Corpus Juris and Europol are indicators of the EU's totalitarian direction. They illustrate the growing impotence of national governments against the monolithic Euro-state. For those who value freedom, they underline the need for withdrawal.
In modern Europe, Britain effectively invented human rights. Freedom of speech, association and religious belief, free trade unions, parliamentary reform and respect for property rights were all pioneered in Britain. We have for centuries provided safe haven for those fleeing religious, political or racial persecution, a proud tradition that has enriched our economy and society.
After World War II, British politicians worked strenuously for international guarantees of freedom and justice for all. In 1951, Britain was amongst the first signatories to the European Convention of Human Rights and was a founder member of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. The UK Independence Party supports the principles of that Convention, because they are based on individual freedom rather than state control. But the Convention should be regarded as a series of guidelines, rather than as a binding legal code to be enforced without regard for differing national circumstances. The original aim of the Convention was to provide a flexible framework - in contrast to EU law, which is dictatorial, insensitive and dogmatic.
The UKIP supports the inclusion of the Convention of Human Rights into British domestic law. But the Human Rights Act (1999) that was supposed to achieve this is too rigid and so, ironically, it is against the spirit of the Convention. Instead of creating a culture of freedom and responsibility, it has become a pretext for politically correct interest groups to impose their will on government, society, and those they falsely claim to represent. The UKIP would therefore repeal the Human Rights Act and re-enact it to ensure that it is applied in a manner compatible with British custom and common law.
The EU's Charter of Fundamental Human Rights, that Britain has just signed, is a document of a fundamentally different kind, and it resembles more closely the constitution of the old Soviet Union. Its aim, we are told, is to 'give Europe a soul' or prove that the EU is more than purely an economic machine. But the human rights under the Charter can be defined by the state and they take precedence over individual freedom. Freedom of speech and publication, freedom of religious organisations and freedom of private association are all at risk.
Taken to its logical conclusion, the EU's 'anti-discrimination' policy as reflected in the Charter means that a Christian school could be forced to employ atheist teachers, or a Muslim organisation to appoint Christian managers. The perverse effect of this will be to emphasise differences between sections of society and give power to self-appointed activists. The European Union favours divisive 'group' rights over individual freedom. In this connection, we note that most countries in the EU are in practice much less tolerant of racial or religious minorities than Britain. Only outside the EU will Britain be a truly inclusive society.
Although our government has insisted that the Charter is merely a consultative document, in reality it will be used as the basis for judgements by the European Court of Justice and it is the precursor to an EU Constitution. The UKIP regards this as a gross and unacceptable assault on our liberty, to which British people will never submit.
The UKIP - like the British people - believes that the state exists to protect freedom. This is quite different from the model favoured by the EU, in which rights are granted by the state and so the state can take them away. Withdrawal from the EU has become essential, as the only way to protect our common law rights and uphold our freedoms.
The UKIP sees connections between rising crime - against both people and property - and economic imbalance, family breakdown, poverty in the midst of plenty and the lack of education in responsible citizenship. We believe in addressing all these issues because job opportunities and social inclusion are the best ways to reduce anti-social behaviour. We also believe that education plays a crucial role in socialising young people. This is why we aim for an education system that meets the needs of all pupils, gives them good role models and sets an example of social responsibility.
At the same time, the UKIP regards the protection of citizens from crime as one of the principal duties of government. Crime is socially unjust - most of the victims are not the rich, but the less well off. A disproportionate number belong to ethnic minorities. The UKIP supports deterrent sentences, but we do not see the solution simply in terms of building more prisons and locking more people up. Not all custodial sentences have to involve prison. It has been shown that strong rehabilitative regimes, which involve vocational or outdoor skills, and reparations to victims, have more success in preventing young offenders in particular from re-offending. The UKIP also supports non-custodial sentences where possible, especially for 'victimless' crimes and non-violent offences. Too many are sent to jail for non-violent crimes better dealt with within the community, and too many young men are sent to adult prisons, where their needs cannot be met.
For some heinous offences, we reinforce that 'life means life'. Prisoners should not be offered early release if they still pose a danger to others - such leniency brings the law into disrepute, as evidenced by 'anti-paedophile' protests, for instance. The UKIP opposes legislation which, in certain types of offence, gives anonymity to the accuser but not the accused. This procedure contravenes natural justice, as does the rule that prisoners have to admit their guilt to be considered for parole.
The UKIP values the police both for their crime-fighting tasks and for their wider role in holding communities together. Unlike the police in many EU countries, ours are primarily public servants, and they deserve our respect for the service they provide. However we believe that this ethos of service has become tarnished in recent years by too much bureaucratic procedure, political correctness, and centralised control. Police services should be answerable to and reflect the interests of the communities they serve, and the UKIP believes that a system of County Constabularies is the best framework. We are opposed to proposals for a national Police force.
The UKIP is resolutely opposed to racism wherever it occurs. However, some of the rhetorical gestures of 'anti-racism' and 'diversity training', supposedly designed to address alleged racism in the police forces, have proved to be less than productive. A better approach is to put more police on the beat, especially in areas of high crime and social deprivation, and we support the Police Federation's call for a Royal Commission on the role and resourcing of the Police force. Part of the Independence Dividend of funds that become available on Britain's departure from the EU will be used to recruit more full-time and special constables, with the aim of reconnecting police with local communities. This will enable 'high visibility policing' with an emphasis on criminals, not motorists.
The UK Independence Party includes British people from all backgrounds and origins who are concerned about the future of their country and do not wish to be ruled by Brussels. This reflects our belief in individual freedom and equality under the rule of law. Over the centuries, those who have made Britain their home have enriched our society, our economy and our culture. But as with all prosperous countries, Britain will always be attractive to immigrants, and numbers therefore have to be limited. The attitude of the UKIP is to apply Britain's immigration rules firmly but humanely.
Unlike other parties, the UKIP believes that immigration policy should be the sole responsibility of the British government and Parliament. Withdrawal from the EU means that there will be no further moves towards a 'pan-European' immigration policy. That means, in turn, that we could accept skilled immigrants, many of them from countries with closer historical ties to Britain than the EU. The experiences of Canada and Australia have shown the benefits of admitting immigrants on the basis of skill and experience, not national or ethnic origin.
This does not mean, of course, that we advocate 'relying' on immigration to make up skill shortages. The UKIP is strongly committed to educating, training and promoting a skilled workforce of British people from all sections of British society, as is set out in our education policy.
The UKIP will also redress the injustice that EU 'nationals' can bring their families to Britain automatically, whilst Commonwealth immigrants have to wait years to unify theirs. The UKIP supports an inclusive concept of British nationality, with common citizenship and shared values.
The UKIP insists that the processing of asylum applications must be speeded up. We approve of the current arrangement in which asylum seekers are detained in reception centres whilst their cases are considered. However asylum applicants must be closely monitored during the application process. The current system, which affords the opportunity to 'disappear' makes a mockery of the law and helps to make Britain a popular destination. This opportunity is probably the biggest single cause of the current scale of Britain's problems with asylum seekers. It also creates new social problems in which illegal workers are vulnerable to exploitation and compete unfairly with our own least well off citizens.
Britons of all origins favour a firm but fair asylum policy. The failure to process asylum applications rigorously is profoundly illiberal, and it fuels racial conflict. Lax enforcement of policies is unjust to genuine refugees and to the wider public. It rewards criminality and punishes law-abiding behaviour. Rigorous but just asylum laws are essential to preserve a free and tolerant society, and an atmosphere of trust.
Freedom from the EU will allow us to give precedence to those refugees who have come to Britain as a first port of call, rather than first claiming asylum in another EU country, such as France or Italy. The 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees is seriously outdated; outside the EU, an independent Britain could press for its reform.
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The UK Independence Party believes that the unprecedented crisis in agriculture is largely due to the inherent failures of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Indeed, the CAP even limits our own government's ability to provide financial relief to farmers who are currently suffering such severe distress. But despite repeated promises by successive UK governments, there will never be any meaningful reform of the CAP because it serves the interests of other EU nations. When Britain leaves the EU, we shall at last be free from the CAP and able to choose our own policies, with the aim of restoring agriculture as a vibrant and diverse sector of the economy.
Although the UKIP is committed to free-market principles, we recognise that agriculture is a special case. Our agricultural industry cannot prosper without subsidy, nor can it survive if it is exposed to unrestricted global competition. The control of agricultural imports is also desirable as a health measure. Questions about our open attitude to imports are naturally being raised as a result of the devastating outbreak of foot and mouth disease. But, again, the proper implementation of appropriate measures will only be possible once Britain is free from the EU.
Special treatment is also required for the countryside. The British countryside is not just a machine for producing food and other essentials. It is not even an 'industry'. It is part of our national heritage to be enjoyed by all and its preservation requires national support.
But before any longer-term strategies are developed, an immediate injection of financial support is required, specifically targeted on areas of most need, to halt the drift from the land, farming bankruptcies, and the growing level of hardship in rural areas.
In addition to accommodating the needs of the countryside, and those who work in it, any payment scheme to farmers has to change the fundamental basis of agricultural support. The farmer must not be seen as the beneficiary of 'handouts' but must become a valued contractor providing services which the taxpayer wants and is prepared to pay for. To meet this requirement, the UKIP proposes a voluntary scheme which we have called the Land Management Contract Scheme (LMCS).
The basis of this scheme is that individual farmers would be invited to draw up specific contracts in respect of their farms, in which the style of land use and management would be agreed. This would include such parameters as crops grown, methods of cultivation, employment levels, animal stocking density and types of husbandry, pesticide and herbicide usage, public access, wildlife conservation and similar factors.
Support would be calculated on the basis of the notional income which would be generated by a highly intensive farm - where production efficiency was the only criterion. Payments would reimburse farmers for notional losses arising from compliance with contract conditions.
By this means, socially and environmentally desirable practices - including forestry - would be rewarded, without farmers suffering a loss of income.
Despite such provisions, there will be farms in remote or 'less favoured' areas (such as hill farms) which will not be competitive or provide an adequate living. In these circumstances, where there is a social benefit in maintaining agricultural activity - such as the maintenance of rural employment, landscape maintenance, wildlife conservation, etc. - additional support should be provided. The UKIP would favour channelling this additional support through an extension of the LMCS, thus encouraging farmers to deliver specific services in exchange for the payments made.
The UKIP would like to see more farmers converting to the organic system of agriculture. We are also concerned at the inability of UK producers to satisfy the growing demand for organic produce - and our increasing reliance on imported produce, much of which could readily be grown in this country. Support provisions will be accommodated in our LMCS.
Similarly, there should be recognition for farmers developing and converting to 'welfare friendly' methods of animal husbandry. Freedom from the EU will mean that Britain can maintain and improve upon its standards of animal welfare, without being dragged down to a 'European' mean. We oppose EU plans to 'harmonise' animal welfare legislation and so relax restrictions on cosmetic testing, guidelines on medical or scientific testing (vivisection) and the long-distance live transport of animals. The UKIP regards such indifference to animal cruelty as evidence of the inhuman and authoritarian nature of the EU project.
The UKIP believes that young people with suitable qualifications should be given special assistance to equip their own farms, through the medium of 'soft' loans. Landlords should be afforded tax breaks to let farms to suitable young applicants. We would also like to see a special hardship fund set up to buy out elderly farmers so that farms can be released onto the market intact, and thus made available to young farmers.
Text of full Agricultural Policy
The UKIP supports the development of farmers' markets, with buildings and public car parking provided by local authorities. There should also be special support for farming co-operatives. To ensure fair competition between farmer's retail enterprises, small shops and supermarkets, we believe that local taxation should be equalised, with uniform business rate levied on shelf space used for sales, rather than on trading area.
The UKIP will support new retail development if there are benefits to town centre renewal. However, we favour a more liberal approach to planning and regulation of farming enterprises. Farms should be free from unnecessary restrictions which limit diversification. They should be allowed to set up farm shops selling a wide range of goods instead of being limited to what is produced on the farm. We would also like to see farmers permitted to diversify more easily into non-agricultural enterprises, where their environmental impact is minimal or well-contained.
The UKIP deplores the attack on country sports by illiberal politicians and pressure groups, and will uphold the traditional liberties of country people whilst treating this as a matter of personal conscience. We support access to the countryside for walkers and the preservation of traditional rights of way. However we believe that an unrestricted 'right to roam' is ecologically damaging and imposes intolerable stresses on small farmers, especially in less favoured areas. Accordingly, we shall amend the Countryside and Rights of Way Act to take account of local conditions.
Freedom from the dead hand of the EU will not solve the whole of agriculture's problems. It is the start of a wider cultural change, in which rural policy is brought from the fringes to the centre of government. To enable this process to take place, the current Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries should be replaced by a Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, which would act as a champion for rural communities.
Whilst Britain remains in the EU, it remains entrenched in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The CFP promotes the immoral waste of our fishery resources and forces fishermen to throw back, dead, more fish than are landed for consumption. As such the CFP represents the most illogical, grotesque and wasteful use of one of Britain's most valuable natural resources. It sums up, as a single policy, most facets of what is wrong with the EU and the centralised, remote form of administration that it seeks to impose in all areas of our national life.
The EU seeks even more control over British fishing grounds, depriving our fishing communities still further of this unique resource. And it proposes absolute central control which will reduce Britain's quotas still further, whilst allowing other EU members a greater share of our fishing grounds.
Only by withdrawal from the EU can our fishing grounds be protected and the stocks effectively managed. Fishing stocks, particularly North Sea cod, are on the point of permanent extinction. The UKIP proposes 'fishing-free' zones to allow sustainable stocks to recover, and the prohibition of certain fishing methods that are environmentally damaging and unsustainable. We will draw upon the experience and success of Norway in its management of its fishing grounds. A sustainable fisheries policy will be developed in close co-operation with our fishing communities and fisheries experts, with the primary basis being one of exclusive fishing rights allowed to the British industry (up to 200 miles) under International Law. Access by EU members and other countries will be granted by bilateral agreement.
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The UK Independence Party supports a strong, effective defence policy for a free and independent nation. This means ensuring that our Armed Forces are properly funded and adequately equipped. Successive UK governments have allowed defence spending to be repeatedly cut, with damaging effects on morale and the predictable result that the ability of our forces to fulfil even their limited current commitments is severely compromised. It is UKIP policy that a portion of the funds that become available on leaving the EU will be used to regenerate all three arms of Britain's defence forces, both in terms of personnel and equipment.
Withdrawal from the EU will mean that our defence procurement policy is no longer dictated by a commitment to EU integration. This will free us from the closed, inefficient system that gave us the Tornado (the F3 version of which had to be excluded from front line combat zones in the Gulf War), the Merlin (at £100M per airframe the most expensive helicopter on record) and the Eurofighter (£60M per airframe), which is five years late and three generations behind technology leaders. Freed from these EU projects, we shall be able to purchase equivalent technology from the US at far lower cost, or buy into hi-tech US enterprises which would greatly enhance our military capability.
On leaving the EU we shall also withdraw from the 'Rapid Reaction Force'. This is, as Commission President Prodi has made clear, an embryonic European Army for a European superstate, under the command of Brussels. As such it will not 'defend' us but threaten our independence. A self-governing Britain will work constructively with allies in North America, Europe and elsewhere, to the extent that this is in British interests. We are not isolationists, but nor do we envisage ourselves as 'world policemen'. British forces have a valuable peacekeeping role, but only in areas of strategic concern or historical ties to Britain. We see NATO as the cornerstone of Britain's defence policy, in particular because it underpins our continuing voluntary military co-operation with the United States. We are concerned that, despite denials by our government, the integrity of NATO is being threatened by the EU's new defence arrangements.
The maintenance of an effective force requires different attitudes between military and civilian life, as is reflected in military law and recruitment. For instance, it is obvious that civilian sex and disability discrimination laws cannot be applied without qualification in the armed forces. The UKIP believes that the effectiveness of our armed forces is nonetheless being undermined by bureaucratic and politically correct management, and we shall strenuously resist this development. We shall, however, encourage recruitment from minority groups and the equal treatment of all military personnel, regardless of background. The UKIP will also seek to reverse the decline in the Reserve Forces and Cadet Corps in schools and local communities.
The aim of the UKIP's foreign policy will be to co-operate with other nations insofar as this is in Britain's interests, and to foster free trade. We shall reform overseas development policy: foreign aid should be handed to local communities themselves rather than governments or bureaucratic agencies. Aid will be conditional on decent standards of individual freedom and fiscal honesty, but we shall not use it as a weapon to destroy traditional ways of life. Such considerations will also be applied to the remission of international debt.
As discussed previously under Home Affairs, the UKIP supports the Council of Europe's original objectives as a positive alternative to the EU. This is because they are based on voluntary co-operation rather than the surrender of national sovereignty. Moreover they encompass the whole European continent, not just a privileged portion of it.
Continued membership of the European Union will increasingly diminish Britain's voice in international affairs, as more power is ceded to EU institutions. An independent Britain, by contrast, can be a major player on the world stage. Friendship with the United States and our role in the Commonwealth link us directly with more than a quarter of the world's peoples, and some of the richest and fastest-growing economies. Freed from the EU, we can use our influence to promote freedom, tolerance and fair trade.
Our opponents call us 'little Englanders'. We say that they are frightened of the world.
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The UK Independence Party supports the principles and values of the British political system: constitutional monarchy; parliamentary government; common law and the Union. The British constitution has great flexibility and a proud tradition of democratic reform. It has adapted well to changing social conditions, providing stability, continuity and an underlying sense of freedom. There have been no revolutions in Britain since 1688 and no extremist movement - right or left - has ever gained mass support. Our history and our political system vary markedly from those of continental Europe. We aim to preserve and build upon our best political traditions, but we can only do this as an independent and free people.
The UKIP opposes moves to abolish the British constitution and replace it with rigid EU law. We oppose attempts to balkanise our country into 'regions' answerable largely to Brussels. And we deplore the gradual loss of parliamentary authority under both Tory and New Labour regimes. To shore up our constitutional tradition, and protect it from future attacks, we believe that a few key reforms are needed.
First, the UKIP supports a new Bill of Rights for the United Kingdom. This will prevent at any time in the future any treaty that vests national sovereignty in an agency other than Parliament and the Crown. This Bill of Rights would be a Magna Carta for the twenty-first century, guaranteeing our independence and securing our democratic freedoms.
Secondly, the UKIP seeks to redress the balance of power in favour of Parliament - and away from an over-mighty Executive. We shall therefore legislate to circumscribe the government's ability to produce secondary legislation, and its reliance on Enabling Acts. The power and influence of the many unelected 'quangos' and 'task forces' is also in need of urgent review. Finally, there is a pressing need to formalise the system of Select Committees, to fund them adequately and give them statutory powers to require witnesses to attend. Equally, we need to give statutory authority, via Select Committees, to the findings of Parliamentary Ombudsmen.
The relationship between MPs and their constituents is a crucial part of the British political system. The UKIP believes that the MP's principal responsibility is to his or her constituents, not as mere party delegate. UKIP MPs would place their constituents' interests first and be prepared to think and act independently. Giving Parliament more teeth will encourage constructive criticism of government by MPs. This will keep Ministers on their toes and lead to more open government. As a matter of principle, we condemn the proposal for state funding of political parties, which gives rise to the dangerous possibility that the state can, in effect, strangle political opposition at birth by denying funding.
The UKIP believes in two-chamber government. We regret the weakening of the House of Lords through a mixture of opportunism, politics of envy and misguided reforming zeal. Already, conscientious and independent-minded peers have been replaced by 'cronies' who have nominal power but lack any moral authority.
Part of the EU myth is a decentralised 'Europe of Regions'. In effect, this means the break-up of nation states, the creation of toy-town regional assemblies in place of national parliaments, and the upward devolution of power to EU institutions lacking historical roots. In other words, regionalism is an illusion, another EU confidence trick. The UKIP seeks consensus, not divisive rivalry, between the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. The Welsh Assembly has proved unpopular and ineffective; we propose a second referendum to determine whether the current settlement has an ongoing mandate. The 'West Lothian question' remains unsolved, and the UKIP will address it as part of our ongoing restoration of parliamentary sovereignty. Likewise, we shall oppose any attempt to force on the people of Northern Ireland any constitutional change without their full and informed consent.
The EU project of a balkanised Britain has been aided by the reorganisation of local government under both Heath and Thatcher. The UKIP would return powers to local government, and repeal local government legislation that encourages secrecy and lack of accountability. The UKIP believes in restoring the county as the basis for local administration, and where possible, we shall return to pre-1974 county boundaries.
As a democratic party, we aim to widen participation in local politics. One device we favour is greater use of the referendum - when it is called for by citizens' petition. Referendum campaigns will reconnect local governments with the communities they serve and ensure that local government is properly representative. It will keep at bay both bureaucracy and politically-correct excesses. At the national level, too, all major constitutional questions should be approved by referenda, and we support the creation of an objective, impartial Referendum Commission. But the referendum must be seen as a supplement to representative government, not a substitute for it.
Above all, the UK Independence Party can promise that no EU 'constitution' or charter will be used to override British law. No other party can do that.
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The UK Independence Party believes, along with most British people, that Britain should be ruled by our own elected parliament. Our parliament should be in charge of our laws, our taxation, our economic policies, our agricultural and fishing policies, our defence forces and our judicial system.
All these functions of government are being progressively taken over by the European Union. "In the EU" means government by the EU, and experience has repeatedly shown that trying to negotiate a better deal for Britain does not work. The UKIP believes in British democracy, not autocratic rule from Brussels. The only way to achieve this is for Britain to leave the EU.
The euro would not be good for Britain's economy. It is not designed to be. Its purpose is to promote "ever closer union" within Europe, as EU politicians keep telling us. The UKIP is the only party that will keep the pound on principle, because we believe our government must be in charge of Britain's budget and interest rate policies.
If Britain joins the euro, our interest rates will be set to suit conditions in the EU, making boom-and-bust worse in Britain. The euro would not make borrowing cheaper, nor would it reduce unemployment. Britain is the 4th largest world economy and we are thriving outside the euro-area. We do not need to give up the £.
Britain's trade with EU countries does NOT depend on membership of the EU's "single market". Norway and Switzerland do most of their trade with the EU but are not members. When Britain leaves the EU, our trade with EU countries will continue because we are one of their biggest customers. Also, release from the EU's external trade barriers will enable Britain to develop stronger trading links with countries outside the EU, like the US and the Commonwealth countries. And, far from putting off investment, a strong world-trading Britain free from EU restrictions will be an even greater magnet for foreign investment funds.
When Britain leaves the EU, we shall stop giving £8.5 billion (and to become £11 billion) per year to the EU budget, and the UKIP estimates that at least a further £11.5 billion per year will become available to the Treasury from deregulation and a healthier economy. Our full manifesto sets out how this £20 billion "Independence Dividend" could be spent on pensions, agricultural assistance, run-down public services, the NHS, defence, schoolteachers and the police.
Leaving the EU will allow us to scrap thousands of EU directives which interfere with our lives, ruin businesses and destroy jobs, and the UKIP would pay particular attention to removing regulation from small businesses. We would also address the whole regulatory culture that has grown up in Britain, breeding more bureaucracy, enriching lawyers, and encouraging dishonesty and disrespect for authority. The taxation and benefit system needs drastic simplification and revision to restore the incentives to employment and enterprise.
When Britain leaves the EU, we shall at last be rid of the Common Agricultural Policy, and free to design policies for farming and the countryside that suit Britain, not our EU 'partners'. Next time there is a foot-and-mouth outbreak, we can decide for ourselves how to deal with it. And out of the EU, we can re-establish control of our fishing grounds and allow our ruined fishing industry to recover.
The UK Independence Party does not prescribe detailed policies in all areas. That will be the job of our elected UK government, which will be free to make laws that are in the interests of British voters once Britain is independent from the EU. But we do have clear views of the sort of independent Britain we want, with accountable, honest government at both national and local levels. We want government that earns respect, not contempt and suspicion.
The UKIP believes that the root of the widespread low morale and dissatisfaction with our public services is too much centralised control and bureaucratic management. Our attitude is to improve funding, and as far as possible to shift responsibility back to our schools, NHS staff, police and defence forces. We have competent and dedicated professionals in all these services. Leave them alone to get on with their jobs, free from red-tape, political-correctness, performance targets, spin-doctors, and fear of litigation.
In line with these principles, the UKIP would allow our schools to select and stream pupils to give the best opportunities for all. And besides concentrating on basic skills, an all-round education needs other activities including sports. We believe that the family, as the basic building block of society provides the best background for bringing up confident children, and we would restore tax allowances for married couples with children under 18.
There is deep concern about current levels of crime. The UKIP would find funds for more police, and free them from bureaucracy and politically-correct rules, allowing them to do their jobs effectively. And while rehabilitation must always be the objective, sentencing needs to act as an effective deterrent.
The UKIP recognises the contribution made by all immigrant groups to our culture and economy, and represents British citizens of all races and religions who want their country to be independent. However Britain cannot absorb unlimited numbers. The current problems of immigration and asylum result from inadequate enforcement of our laws, with migrants allowed by other EU countries to 'escape' into Britain. Our own government must re-establish proper border controls and apply our immigration laws humanely but firmly.
Finally, Britain needs a properly equipped, independent defence force that looks after British interests and continues to work with NATO, not as a part of the Euro-army. It is imperative that Britain retains its rightful place in world bodies like the UN and the G8, rather than being represented by the EU.
In 1999, British voters elected 3 UKIP members of the European Parliament. The UKIP is growing fast as more and more people realise that restoring Britain's independence is essential for Britain's future security, self-respect, and prosperity.
Please see our full manifesto on www.ukip.org .
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Summary Index & Authors
Anthony Bennett MA, Solicitor
Craig Mackinlay BSc (Hons) ACA ATII, Chartered Accountant
Aidan Rankin MSc PhD
Anthony Scholefield BSc (Hons) MA
John Whittaker BSc (Hons) PhD BA
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